Chipotle is now accepting cryptocurrency at stores nationwide, potentially giving the movement more legitimacy within the restaurant industry.
With roughly 3,000 stores in the U.S., the fast casual is unquestionably the largest brand allowing customers to use Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
The move is in partnership with Flexa, a digital payments network that currently supports 98 digital currencies. Consumers can simply open a digital wallet app that's integrated with Flexa (Gemini, SPEDN) and select Chipotle. Guests then scan their phone, and Flexa will process the payment in under a second.
This isn't the first time Chipotle has leveraged the growing popularity of cryptocurrency. For National Burrito Day last year, the brand announced that it would give away $100,000 in free burritos and $100,000 in Bitcoin. Players had 10 tries to guess a valid six-digit code for a chance to win a free burrito or up to $25,000 in bitcoin. The promotion was a playful ode to Stefan Thomas, a tech CEO who lost the login to a hard drive storing $387 million in Bitcoin.
A growing number of restaurants appear interested in facilitating cryptocurrency payments. For instance, steakhouse concept III Forks began accepting Bitcoin at its Austin location using Bitpay and the Lightning Network. Customers tell their server at the time of checkout that they would like to pay with Bitcoin, and the employee presents them with a Bitpay QR code to scan.
Brian Kelley, proprietor of the Austin restaurant, told FSR that customers are already using the option and providing "wonderful" feedback, including many who aren't "your typical Bitcoin user."
“We're providing convenience, we're providing options, and we're providing security and privacy with the transactions, as well,” Kelley said. “We’re just trying to give our guests what they want.”
Flexa said in a release Wednesday that it's celebrating Chipotle's partnership by offering 10 percent off a guest’s next purchase.